Government House is the official residence of the Governor-General.
In addition to serving as a residence, the house and grounds, which span over 130 acres, are used by the Governor-General to fulfil his role as Australia’s Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. Government House is where Prime Ministers and Ministers are sworn in to office, international leaders are welcomed and where the achievements of Australia’s most outstanding citizens are officially acknowledged.
In an average year, Government House hosts over 100 events, bringing together over 50,000 Australians from across the country. Two open days are held annually (in Autumn and Spring) and over 25,000 school children visit Government House each year to learn about the role of the Governor-General.
The history of Government House
Government House stands on the traditional land of the Ngunnawal people. The Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General pays respect to the Ngunnawal people and their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The official residence of the Governor-General was originally a humble farmhouse built in the 1830s. The size of the property was originally 1035 hectares, which grew to 16,000 hectares (and 40,000 sheep) by the end of the century.
The Commonwealth Government acquired the property in 1909 (after Canberra was chosen as the site for the Federal capital). During the First World War, the property was used by cadets from the Royal Military College.
In 1921, the Federal Capital Advisory Authority proposed that the property be used as a vice-regal residence and works began 1925 to enlarge and modernise the house for the Governor-General. Sir Isaac Isaacs was the first Governor-General to live permanently at Government House in 1931. Further works to expand the house were undertaken during the 1940s.
For more information about Government House’s history, go to www.theaustralianafund.org.au.
Video tour of Government House